Match Preview – AUS vs OMA 10th Match, Group B, T20 World Cup

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Match details

Australia vs Oman
Barbados, 8.30pm local time

Big Picture

Australia dominated ICC events last year with the World Test Championship and ODI World Cup prizes. Now they begin their quest to be champions across all three formats. Could it be called the men’s cricket Grand Slam? Well, the 50-over Champions Trophy returns next year but let’s not allow such details to get in the way of an intro.

They reached the final of the T20 World Cup when it was held in the Caribbean in 2010 when they fell short against England, but after that it wasn’t until 2021 that they left a mark on the tournament by breaking their title duck in the UAE. Their defence on home soil the following year was disappointing, but the majority of that side remains to have another crack this time.

Their opening game will bring them up against Oman for the first time which, on paper, should be a significant mismatch. Oman began their tournament with a Super Over defeat against Namibia having shown tremendous resilience to take the game that deep and their captain Aqib Ilyas was talking up the opportunity his team had to make names for themselves.

It has been a disjointed build-up for Australia with just nine players available for the two warm-up matches against Namibia and West Indies (Brad Hodge, George Bailey and Andrew McDonald were back in the fold to make up numbers in the field) after those who appeared late into the IPL were given a chance to return home for a few days.

There have been some long journeys since – Cameron Green said it took Mitchell Starc about 60 hours to reach Barbados – and some delayed luggage along the way, but everyone has been together for a few days and, as history shows, put a global trophy on the line and Australia players tend to lift.

This tournament could mark the beginning of a transition in Australia’s white-ball cricket. David Warner‘s international career will come to a close in the next few weeks while there are others who are closer to the end than the beginning.

They are being led for the first time at a global event by Mitchell Marsh whose rise to the captaincy is the latest chapter in the terrific story of his revival at international level.

Form guide

(last five matches, most recent first)
Australia WWWLW
Oman L(Super Over)LWWW

Glenn Maxwell had a shocker of an IPL with the bat as he averaged just 5.77 for Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Australia will hope that another World Cup tilt sparks him back into form. He may not be vital in getting across the line against Oman, but is a crucial part to Australia’s middle order. Do not underestimate the role his offspin could play (his bowling form held up well in the IPL) after he was the second spinner at the ODI World Cup last year. A reminder, too, that in his last seven T20Is he has scores of 104 not out off 48 balls and 120 not out off 55 balls.

Left-armer Bilal Khan started well when he removed Michael van Lingen with the second ball of Namibia’s chase. His experience was then entrusted with the Super Over despite the outstanding effort of Mehran Khan to take the team that deep. It did not work out for Oman with Bilal conceding 21 against David Wiese. “I have to cheer him up as a bowler,” Ilyas said. “No one feels good when he gets hit and he is one of the best associate bowlers. But on a bad day, anything can happen. Last time when we played in Nepal, he was the one to win us for the Super Over when we qualified for the World Cup. But I went straight to him and the only positive thing I could do with my team was I said we sit together and there should be no negative comments on anyone from any of the boys because we win as a team, we lose as a team and Bilal is our main striker.”

Team news: Question of balance for Australia

Australia will ponder whether they need to fit left-arm spinner Ashton Agar into the side at the expense of one of the quicks. There is a chance that either Mitchell Starc or Pat Cummins could be given a few extra days rest given they arrived late after the IPL. The top order looks settled although Marcus Stoinis vs Cameron Green could be a debate. They won’t have the bowling of Marsh early in the tournament.

Australia (possible) 1 David Warner, 2 Travis Head, 3 Mitchell Marsh (capt), 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Tim David, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood

Ilyas said that the bowling attack wouldn’t change after their strong efforts against Namibia but suggested there could be alterations to the batting, either in personnel or order.

Oman (possible) 1 Kashyap Prajapati, 2 Naseem Khushi (wk), 3 Aqib llyas (capt), 4 Zeesham Maqsood, 5 Khalid Kail, 6 Ayaan Khan, 7 Mohammad Nadeem, 8 Mehran Khan, 9 Shakeel Ahmed, 10 Kaleemullah, 11 Bilal Khan

Pitch and conditions

In the game under lights between Oman and Namibia the pitch was very tricky, but the indications were it was easier in the daytime as Scotland’s openers enjoyed themselves against England. Australia-Oman is a night game that is expected to be played on a fresh surface. Eyes will be on the weather after the rain which arrived on Tuesday although the forecast is more promising for this game.

Stats that matter

  • Adam Zampa starts the World Cup needing eight wickets to become the first Australia male cricketer to 100 in T20Is.
  • Before Travis Head returned to the Australia T20I side last year his strike-rate in T20 cricket was 131.39, now it sits at 142.34.
  • Captain Aqib Ilyas will play his 50th T20I when he faces Australia.
  • Quotes

    “This group’s played a lot together and a lot of guys have played a lot of T20 cricket. I know someone like me is fresh back in the squad, but being around this sort of environment, the white-ball team doesn’t really change much between both formats. I think it was just the excitement of getting the boys back together when we finally did all get here. It was some tough travel but now we’re here and the session yesterday had that same energy and there’s no doubt that will flow into the early stages of this tournament.”
    Travis Head

    “[The] boys are really pumped up because these are the moments when you come up against the top sides, that is when you get highlighted all over the world. And the thing is we don’t have much to lose because they have a lot of experience, they have played this game over the years [but] they might have chances of failure, there might be an upset in the World Cup.”
    Aqib Ilyas

    Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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